When finding a new location, there are two questions to ask. Does it make a good photograph? Does it have the light and mood? I decide exactly what the single main hero of my photograph is, usually a building, then find the best place to stand that gives me the cleanest view of the building. Where the building has clean outlines, feels three dimensional and has depth. The next question is to decide how wide I need to shoot; too wide the hero is lost, too tight the hero loses context. I need a balance between being able to see the building as the obvious hero and yet enough surrounding landscape to put the building in context and make a statement about the building being in the landscape.
Deciding the composition works, I like the building and surrounding landscape, the next issue is light and mood. Landscape photographs are best taken with side and back lighting, to some degree the light being behind the subject aimed at the lens but to one side. Buildings are best side lit to give a strong three-dimensional feel. The first question is, what time of day is the best light for this building? Second, I need mood and getting the correct skies and clouds are the key. Lastly, I need to look if there are any secondary hero’s I want to emphasize to help the story and very importantly, are there objects that detract from my story. I need to decide how I will solve these issues now.
Finally, I am forming a plan. I ask myself, if I saw this image on a gallery wall, what would make it the perfect picture? What is it missing? What else does it need? Sometimes it is some animals and always the right sky, but skies I can shoot anywhere if I had too. What I can’t shoot anywhere else is content unique to this location. Secondly, I run through the Photoshop editing in my mind. Seeing what I can correct or remove in the landscape, and the problems involved, and how I can transform what I am looking at into the image and mood I want it to become. If I am confident that I can create the good image I see in my mind, then I move on to the photography stage.